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Roundtable idea on missing women gains momentum

Crey
Crey's sister, Dawn Crey, was one of the women whose DNA was found on a pig farm owned by serial killer Willie Pickton, shown in the background in this 2004 photo. Since then Crey has been an advocate for a national public inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women. A roundtable might do the trick, however in the interim.
— image credit: JENNA HAUCK/ PROGRESS FILE

A national roundtable discussion on Canada's missing and murdered aboriginal women might just do the trick.

That's what Ernie Crey of Chilliwack has been broadcasting on social media all week.

Since the federal government has dug in its heels against a public inquiry, a roundtable approach might be just the ticket in the interim, said Crey, a former social worker, and advisor to Sto:lo Tribal Council.

"They said that money would be better spent doing other things that they regard as more practical than an inquiry," he said. "While I don't agree, being a practical person myself, I wondered what could be done today."

Crey said he has been waiting and watching for a national aboriginal organization to come forward with an alternative to a full-blown public inquiry.

It came in the form of an idea from Michèle Audette of the Native Women's Association of Canada, for a roundtable, bringing together federal, provincial and aboriginal counterparts.

"I was happy to see something that could be done in the meantime," Crey said.

Crey's sister, Dawn Crey, was one of the women whose DNA was found on a pig farm owned by serial killer Willie Pickton.

Ever since, he has been an extremely vocal advocate for a national public inquiry to tackle the systematic aberration of missing and murdered aboriginal women.

The provincial premiers have also backed the roundtable idea.

"Let's get down to brass tacks, and look at what policies and services are going to best serve families coping with the loss of a family member.

"Who could disagree with that?" Crey said.

These efforts could point toward improvements in housing, children and family services or policing. They could touch on the relationships between the aboriginal community and the justice system.

"We could look at what is working in all of that, and what is falling short," he listed as possible focus points for the discussion."

The best part about a roundtable is that it brings all the players together at one time, Crey stressed.

But before anyone gets to the table for talks, there must be ample preparation.

"There's momentum building for the roundtable, but this should not be just another chance for photo-ops. All the parties should go in prepared, otherwise it will flame out," he said.

Prep work means being guided by common terms of reference, and what should come out of the process is a blueprint for how to finally address the entire issue of missing and murdered women.

"I think that National Aboriginal organizations should pull together a planning committee of government reps and Aboriginal peoples reps to scope-out the proposed Roundtable on missing & murdered women. No time to waste," Crey posted on social media.

The federal reps are now warming to the idea of a roundtable, with the condition that the process results in more than just discussion and study.

More than 1,100 cases of murdered and missing aboriginal women have been reported to RCMP over the past three decades, with 1,000 of the reported cases considered murder.

jfeinberg@theprogress.com

twitter.com/chwkjourno

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